Swiss to vote on five-year GM ban / USDA Reports 115 Infractions of Biotech Rules (21/10/2003)

Swiss to vote on five-year GM ban
Reuters, 10.21.03

ZURICH, Oct 21 (Reuters) - Swiss opponents of genetically modified (GM) foods have forced a referendum, which, if successful, will ban GM products from Switzerland for the next five years, the Federal Chancellery said on Tuesday.

A coalition of environmentalists and farmers collected more than 120,000 votes to back a referendum to keep Switzerland GM-free. It would block the use of genetically modified animals, plants and seeds in the Alpine country.

Under Switzerland's strong tradition of popular votes, a referendum can be called on any issue as long as campaigners manage to collect 100,000 signatures.

In a 1998 referendum, Swiss voters rejected by a two-to-one margin a measure that would have outlawed production of transgenetic animals and forbidden the release of genetically altered plants and animals into the environment.

The Chancellery could not immediately say when the referendum would be held.

Copyright 2003, Reuters News Service
USDA Reports 115 Infractions of Biotech Rules [shortened]

U.S. biotech companies and research universities have violated strict federal regulations on planting experimental genetically modified crops more than a hundred times in the last decade, the Agriculture Department said on Friday.

Environmental groups said they have sought these documents for more than four years through the Freedom of Information Act.

"For an industry that has claimed to the public that ... they follow the law and protect the environment, 115 infractions seem large and is disturbing," said Gregory Jaffe, biotech director for the Center for Science in the Public Interest.

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